(The Fremont County Commission and others study the Mortimore Lane design.)

(Lander, Wyo.) РThe Fremont County Commission this morning  agreed that conversations should begin with land owners along the first phase of the Mortimore Lane reconstruction project to get a feel for how they feel about different options relating ditch placement.

The project, as currently designed, would reconstruct Mortimore Lane south of Lander between Sinks Canyon Road and the new bridge over the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River. After hearing comments from people both for and against the project, the commission instructed the design team to begin work on the design to include a pathway all within the existing 60 foot right of way.

Dowl HKM Engineer Diane Oress walked the commission, and a group of interested residents, through the plans. In all, she said her team worked to minimize impact to the nine landowners along the stretch of road. The center of the road would be shifted to the south by a couple feet on average to make room on the northside of the road for

However, one of the biggest complications with constructing the project within the existing right of way are the ditches that run along the road. Oress said in most cases the ditches run right along the right of way line, but something has to happen with them if a pathway is included.

Options are: to either acquire additional right of way to properly place the ditches, get permission to put the ditches on private property, or pipe the ditches along the road.

Piping the irrigation ditches appeared favorable among the commission because it lessens impact to landowners, however Oress said it comes with a $315,000 price tag. That cost is in addition to the more than $800,000 already projected.

The county is anticipating a roughly $180,000 grant specific to the pathway and plans to fund the rest of the project with 1 percent sales tax funds.

Oress also noted increased maintenance costs associated with piping the ditches.

The commission, through Chairman Doug Thompson, directed Oress and County Transportation Superintendent Dave Pendleton to have conversations with the landowners to get a feel for how’d the feel about the various ditch options. The pair will report back to the commission later in the month. Commission Vice Chairman Travis Becker said with the report he didn’t want to know which landowners specifically were wholesale against the project, because he doesn’t want them to be ostracized.